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aaronb9 10-09-2009 09:51 AM

3 year old house, new crack right through slab
Our house is three years old (I mention this because I've read most settlement cracks appear in the first year) and when we moved in there was a small crack in the concrete slab on the back porch.

The porch backs up to the kitchen, and a few weeks ago I noticed the grout had cracked away from the tiles closest to the outside wall.

This morning I noticed the crack goes through the kitchen, probably under the carpeted living room, across the tiled floor the other side of the kitchen, and I can see what I assume is the same crack at the front of the house - it comes out from the point of an outside corner and runs right to the end of this concrete piece. The crack is right about in the middle of the house (left to right) and runs completely from the front of the house to the back.

There's no sign of cracks in the walls (yet), and this is definitely a new occurrence. Looking outside where the slab meets the yard, The crack is right through.

It's a single storey house with upstairs bonus room, wood framed, concrete slab, and stucco exterior.

If anyone has some suggestions on what or who I need to do to get this checked out, I'd really appreciate it.

Scuba_Dave 10-09-2009 10:02 AM

Where are you located?
Do you know the type of soil in your area?
Was this a new housing development...any neighbors that may have the same problem?

aaronb9 10-09-2009 01:37 PM

The house is in North Florida, the soil seems to be earthy/sandy for the first couple of feet, then I believe it's clay below that. Surrounding areas can remain waterlogged for a while, although this particular house is built higher up than neighboring ones.

Relatively new housing development, I'd guess 5-7 years old (this house was in the 4th phase of construction). I'm not aware of any neighbors having the same issues.

The water table is very high in this location also.

Daniel Holzman 10-09-2009 01:48 PM

You may have a house built over expansive clay soil. This type of soils changes volume depending on its moisture content, when it gets wet is expands, when it dries out it shrinks. In some cases, the volume change is up to 10%, which is enough to cause cracking of foundations.

The only way to know for sure if that is the problem is to have a geotechnical investigation done on your property, which usually means soil borings and laboratory tests of the soil. If you have expansive soils, the damage will vary depending on the exact method of construction of your foundation.

You may wish to get in contact with your builder to see what tests, if any, they performed on the soils prior to building the house. Unfortunately, fixes for poor foundation performance when the underlying cause is expansive soils tend to be expensive, so it is important that you get an unbiased, professional report on your soil conditions before you solicit proposals for repair from foundation repair companies.

aaronb9 10-09-2009 03:23 PM

Thanks for the advice. What kind of company or organization should I be looking for to perform the soil analysis?

The home is still under it's 10 year structure warranty, is this something that's likely to be covered?

We have had a problem too with an odor coming up through the plumbing pipe sleeves in the slab when it rains heavily - although not 100% sure, we believe it's ground source methane. As such, I'm thinking cracks in the slab could have some really unpleasant consequences.

Daniel Holzman 10-09-2009 03:49 PM

I can't comment as to whether the damage is covered under your homeowner warranty, that would depend on the language of the warranty and the interpretation of the words by you local and state courts.

As to who can perform the investigation, a local geotechnical engineering company (check yellow pages) should be able to perform the investigation. Typically you need a soil boring rig, although it may also be possible to use a backhoe and save some money on sampling costs that way.

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